By Scott McCaffrey Sun Gazette
Boosters of the new USS Arlington found a receptive audience in the halls of the General Assembly on Feb. 12.
All 140 members of the legislature came away with commemorative coins showcasing what will be the U.S. Navy’s newest addition to the fleet when it is commissioned April 6 in Norfolk.
Del. Patrick Hope (D-47th) encouraged all General Assembly members to attend the commissioning ceremony. “I hope each of you will display this commissioning coin in your office, remembering those who died on 9/11 at the Pentagon, and know that the USS Arlington will protect our nation and our way of life for decades to come,” he said on the House floor.
The Arlington delegation also honored Arlington County Police Capt. Kevin Reardon, one of those who responded to the Pentagon after the 2001 terrorist attack. Reardon designed the commemorative coin.
Reardon is emblematic of “all those Virginians who are self-dedicated to never letting our country forget what that day meant to America,” Hope said in a tribute from the House floor.
Proceeds from the sale of the coins, which are available for purchase at $20 each through the Web site at www.ussarlingtonstore.com, will support the $500,000 fundraising drive in support of commissioning ceremonies and creation of a “tribute room” on the 25,900-ton, 684-foot-long landing platform dock. The fundraising effort, being coordinated by a local commissioning committee and the Navy League of Hampton Roads, has surpassed the $300,000 mark.
Del. Bob Brink (D-48th) told fellow legislators that the local effort had a bipartisan flavor to it.
“The entire Arlington community has joined together to make the commissioning of the USS Arlington an honor to those who served and sacrificed in the aftermath of the attack on the Pentagon, and to those brave men and women who serve us day in and day out.”
The USS Arlington is designed to carry Marines and their equipment on humanitarian missions and, if needed, to world hot-spots. It will be a sister ship to the USS New York and the future USS Somerset, which were named by the Navy to honor communities impacted by the terrorist attacks of 2001 and the first-responders who risked their lives to aid others.
The cost of manufacturing the coins was underwritten by Washington Gas.
For information on attending commissioning ceremonies, see the Web site.